Over the weekend, a petition was lodged to the NGV, City Of Melbourne and the State Government of Victoria on behalf of the a large number of Melbourne street artists and interested community members.
This petition was “signed” in the form of 20 painted panels on a constructed installation, and acknowledged by twenty artists who are practicing in Melbourne today.
The petition was placed at the National Gallery of Victoria, and was curated by activist and artist CDH as a part of his ongoing efforts to foster awareness, support and consideration by both the City Of Melbourne and the Victorian Government to major issues regarding street arts place in the community. The petition also brings attention to the highly discriminatory Graffiti Prevention Act (2007), which we believe has done little to address the issues of at hand, and now been proven highly ineffectual in dealing with the matter – instead, it has created an environment of confusion and misunderstanding within the public of street art and graffiti culture, further alienating the artists that express themselves via public art.
The Petition States:
“We didn’t say please. Does that void artistic merit?
Melbourne’s street art is consistently ranked among the top in the world [1-6], unlike any of Australia’s fine art institutions. Street art is also inherently egalitarian and freely accessible. However, rather than being endorsed with substantial tax payer subsidies  street art is actively stifled by the State Government; the Graffiti Prevention Act (2007) requires artists to provide lawful excuse if caught carrying a graffiti implement (aerosol can, sharp object, pencil) and thus reverses the burden of proof, to a presumption of guilt [8,9].
For the State Government, propriety in street art begins and ends with property rights. We believe the hallmarks of urban neglect (extensive tagging, peeling paint, cracks) demonstrate an owner’s tacit indifference to a site’s appearance. Formal permission is unnecessary; it is already implied. Unsolicited mural painting of a dilapidated site doesn’t damage the property or the community aesthetic. As community stakeholders, civically minded citizens have a right to intervene to restore dilapidated sites, to the betterment of the community.
As we hold this alternate philosophical view on community enrichment, the State Government deems us vandals, criminalizes us and denies any cultural value or artistic merit in our efforts.
1. ‘The 9 best cities For street art spotting’. The Huffington Post. [Online] 03 09, 2012. .
2. Five great cities for street art. The Guardian. [Online] 01 29, 2011. s.
3. The World’s Best Cities for Viewing Street Art. International Business Times. [Online] 10 08, 2010. .
4. The Best Cities for Street Art. Travel and Leisure webzine. [Online] 06 2009.
5. Cities that bring art to the streets! Total Travel. [Online] .
6. Best street art cities on Earth. Travel Glam. [Online]
7. Funding Summary 2009-2010. Australia Council. [Online]
8. The Graffiti Prevention Act  s.7. [Online]
9. Clamping down: The Graffiti Prevention Act . Images to live by. [Online] 09 16, 2008. ”
This petition represents the following artists: Braddock, Klara, Ruskidd, Binder, Baby Guerilla, Calm, Facter, Heesco, Junky Projects, Mark Holsworth (Black Mark – Melbourne Art & Culture Critic), CDH, Adnate, S-701a, Hancock, Presto, Phoenix The Street Artist, DV8, Mysterious Al, Conrad Bizjak and Yarn Corner, and also has the endorsement of a large majority of street artists who are currently practicing within the greater Melbourne metropolis. (Download the PDF with all the artwork here).
The full installation of the petition as a standing structure was, unfortunately not possible. Heavy security presence did not allow the artists to get the piece to its full standing position. That said, an administrator for the NGV allowed the petition to be delivered as a gift on the grounds of the NGV, thus fulfilling the primary aim of the project. What the NGV decides to do with this gift is something we will be keenly observing. Check out another run down on the installation over at Melbourne Art & Culture Critic.
Invurt are proud to support this petition. CDH did a remarkable job, and it has taken him many months of planning and coordination to bring it all together. It’s artists like him, who continue to promote and espouse the virtues of street art to wider audiences and who advocate its presence in our city, who give us hope of great things to come for street art in Melbourne.
We sincerely wish for the respective governments to read and consider this statement and petition. In light of other recent matters pertaining to Melbourne Street Art, including the recent controversial and lamentable proposal to install security cameras in Hosier Lane, we hope for vigorous engagement, feedback and input on the subject between both the respective governments and the street art community as a whole.
A full PDF and release of the petition artworkand artists can be downloaded here.
UPDATE #1 - A good friend of ours sent us this photo of the petition outside of the gallery this morning.
UPDATE #2 - The ABC has put an article up online about the Trojan Petition - you can read it here.
Update #3 - At first, according to the news article above, it appears as if the NGV had decided to just leave the petition outside, and have it removed. This afternoon, CDH met with the new director of the NGV, Tony Ellwood and the NGV Curator Of Australian Art, David Hurlston, to discuss the petition. The issue being that the NGVs charter states that it cannot accept gifts from living contemporary artists – which is a fairly valid convention, given that if they were to do so then they would surely be inundated with artwork that they wouldn’t be able to properly store and maintain. However, a possible solution was offered up and a compromise was agreed to.
As of 5pm Monday 10th September, the petition was moved inside and placed on temporary display inside the NGV – only, however, until Friday 14th September – technically it is now on loan to the gallery for several days and will then need to be removed.
(Excuse the phone cam image, we’ll have better ones soon)
If you’d like to see it best get down there to see the piece, it will be on display from Wednesday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, except Wednesday when the gallery is open until 9pm. This is a result we couldn’t be more pleased about, but its just a nice bit of icing on the top of a great project that we all hoped would bring awareness to the issues in the petition itself. The question is, will we now be hearing from either the CoM or the State Government? Wouldnt that be grand?
After the piece is removed from the gallery on Friday evening, the artwork will be auctioned off and any proceeds from its sale will be used to help kick start a micro-grant program for street artists here in Melbourne, an idea that a few people been kicking around for a while.
A big thankyou to the NGV for their support and consideration on both the issues purported on the petition, as well as their respect for the piece as a whole – especially David Hurlston and Tony Ellwood – welcome back to the ‘burn, Tony :)
Oh, and again – way to fkn go, CDH!